Dirt--pieces of stone, concrete, asphalt and soil. Compacted, impacted. A path.
Upright. I stand upright.
Whispers, rustling, the soft brush of plant matter against its like. The wind.
I see farther. Tall plants, upright, strong, dressed in rough bark and topped with thin needles. Evergreens.
Colors. I see colors. Greens, browns.
I see the presence of all colors across the visible spectrum, combined to create white. Fields of white. Mountains of white.
Steps. I take a step, one foot in front of the other. The path leads to the field. A field covered in white.
I step out into the field. It moves, it compacts and crushes together. I kneel and press my hand into the white.
I lift my hand from the snow. It drips with dampness, with water. I see my hand. White, smooth, five digits. Four fingers and a thumb.
No. Not human. Something else.
What am I?
I stand up. I look around, observing the things that surround me.
Trees, hills. Beyond them: triangles and peaks. Mountains. Beyond that: gray, dark blanket of clouds. The sky. The sun cannot be seen.
There is nothing more to see here. I start to walk. One foot in front of the other.
The path goes forward. Into the forest. Into the mountains. The path is fresh, there are no plants growing in it, no large stones or rough ground. This path has been walked on by someone recently.
I do not walk on the path. I walk along the fields and into the trees.
Do I want to meet someone? Do I want them to see what I am?
I stop walking.
I look around again. The trees. The snow. I listen to the wind brush the branches and shake the trees.
Perhaps I will stay here. Until I learn what I am.
The snow is quiet. The trees are quiet. There is... peace.
I like peace.
Sound. I hear something. The crunch of something on the dirt of the path.
I turn to look. I see someone.
A human covered in heavy clothes, with boots and a mask and goggles. The build suggests a female. A female human walking along the path with something in her hands.
Something that is long, with a stock and a barrel, a multi-lense scope on top. The barrel and muzzle width suggest a rifle of .50 caliber or higher. But the chamber and magazine are not. The chamber and magazine have been modified, non-standard, capabilities unknown.
How do I know this? Why do I know this?
She sees me. She stops. The rifle comes up and its muzzle turns in my direction. I can see down the barrel, the whole length, all the way up the barrel to the chamber.
Alarms. I see red. Something tells me to move. I hear the voice from somewhere, everywhere and nowhere. The voice tells me there is a danger. The voice tells me that she is going to shoot me.
I hear her voice next, muffled by her clothes and wraps. I hear her words, and they tell me to stop, to not move.
I was not moving.
She walked toward me. She is slow, she is careful, she does not want to fall in the snow. Her rifle still has its muzzle pointed toward me. She is speaking but her voice is quieter now. She is not talking to me. But I can still hear her. She is asking someone else what do so. She says that she had found another one, wandering down at the foot of the mountains.
I cannot hear what the answer is. But the rifle does not move.
She says more, about how this one is not trying to move or run, about how it is not trying to attack her. How it is walking alone under the trees away from people. She says that this one is different.
I cannot hear this answer either. The rifle remains pointed in my direction.
She says something else. She says that she understands. She stops and looks at me for a moment. She lowers her hand from her rifle and reaches up to move her goggles, to lower the wrap from her face. I see blue eyes, red cheeks, a mouth that looks twisted by something unnatural. Scars.
Her mouth moves.
The rifle comes up again. The muzzle points.
The voices try to warn me.
Should I move?
Should I run away?
Should I stop her?
I do not want to run.
I do not want to stop her.
I do not move.
The crack and flash.
I am hit.
I am still. I am quiet.